The Claims they make
Many claims have been made about the benefits of colon cleansing and detox dieting, such as removal of toxins or hardened fecal matter that may be trapped in the walls of the colon.  Loss of toxins and fecal matter is in turn then supposed to lead to weight loss or a  reduced risk of cancer.  Although in anecdotal reports some people claim to feel “lighter” or better after a detox diet, there is no scientific evidence that shows these procedures to be effective in removing toxins from the body or providing health benefits. In fact, a healthy human body is naturally well equipped to remove toxins on a daily basis, thanks to the hard work of the liver and kidneys.

Promotional materials often include photographs of snake-like gelatinous substances expelled during cleansing.  When these pictures are not faked, they are probably showing stool generated by large doses of the regimen’s fiber supplement.  More important, the rationale for intestinal cleansing — to dislodge material adhering to the colon walls — is fundamentally mistaken.  When fecal matter accumulates, it compacts into firm masses in the open interior of the colon; it does not adhere to the intestinal walls as the “sludge” depicted in the advertisements.  Like fasting, colonic cleansing carries a risk of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, impaired bowel function, and disruption of intestinal flora.

Despite their popularity, detox diets are not scientifically proven to have any beneficial effects.  According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., nutritionist with Mayo Clinic, reported feelings of well-being and heightened energy levels during and after detox diets may simply be a case of mind over matter.  Buy into them, and you’re buying an expensive placebo.

RISKS
An article in “Healthbeat,” a free publication from Harvard Medical School, examines the popular Master Cleanse diet.  Proponents recommend following the diet for 10 days or more.  Weight loss is temporary and unhealthy, resulting from “fluid loss related to extremely low carbohydrate intake and frequent bowel movements, or diarrhea produced by salt water and laxative tea.”  And since the diet lacks protein and fatty acids along with other essential nutrients, you’re essentially starving your body.  Even worse, repeated cycles of the diet put you at risk for metabolic acidosis, an acid-base imbalance that in severe cases can lead to coma and death.

The use of certain drugs or certain diseases do result in the need to assist natural colon cleansing.  But, colon cleansing if not monitored or adhered to within prescribed limit, does result in potential health hazards.  Research reveals instances of damage to the rectum, amoebiasis, electrolyte imbalances and even heart attacks. Frequent and random colon cleansing is also known to interfere with normal bowel functioning, leading to a lifelong dependence on enemas and laxatives to defecate solid waste.  It has also been observed that some of the herbs incorporated within the colon cleansing process interact with and greatly reduce the effect of prescribed drugs.

Colon cleansing is known to disrupt the balance between natural enzymes and bacteria in the digestive tract.  Gastrointestinal perforation, amoebic infection, dehydration, anemia, salt depletion and malnutrition are also associated with colon cleansing programs.  It is important to address the colon cleansing detox trend that is being followed extensively today.  The two ways of cleansing the colon, via detoxification supplements and induced-flushing, are both associated with health hazards.  Both the detoxification processes involve varying degrees of body-shock, manifesting in symptoms such as anxiety, migraines, nausea, depression, constipation and diarrhea.  Medical professionals believe that the colon is completely self-sufficient to handle regular cleansing, without any external intervention.  Colon cleansing detox supplements are also known to trigger allergic reactions, stomach cramps and severe joint ache.  The effect of the cleansing on the immune system and related body functions can be life-threatening.

Don’t Buy into the Cleansing Gimmick
The human body can defend itself very well against most environmental insults and the effects of occasional indulgence.  If you’re generally healthy, concentrate on giving your body what it needs to maintain its robust self-cleaning system — a healthful diet, adequate fluid intake, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and all recommended medical check-ups.  If you experience fatigue, pallor, unexplained weight gain or loss, changes in bowel function, or breathing difficulties that persist for days or weeks, visit your doctor instead of a detox spa.

Healthy All Natural Alternatives
Probiotics are always a healthy addition to your diet, and therefore you should take them regularly. The right probiotic will re-balance your gut flora, boost your immune system and help maintain the correct acidity in your digestive system.  However this is not always practical (probiotics can be expensive for a start), so when you have your condition under control you can try slowly reducing your dosage. There are a few things to look out for when you choose your probiotic. The number of live bacteria per capsule (it should be several billion), the number of probiotic strains and the exact type of those strains are all important. The more recent studies show great benefit from Prebiotics also.

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